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Thread: U534 the 'cartoon U-Boat

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    Default U534 the 'cartoon U-Boat

    While at a railway station on Merseyside I noticed a poster for Mersey Ferries that features U534 as a comic cartoon image advertising a tourist attraction. I had someone in the family an uncle torpedoed by a U-Boat. To the point, U534 shot down a Liberator killing its crew in May 1945 . U-534 shot down the Liberator after all U-Boats had been told to surrender, an action which could be viewed as a war crime. That is why I think the cartoon image is not right. U-534 also shot down a Wellington bomber the previous year. I wonder if any members of the forum has details of this, i.e.the serial number of the Wellington and fate of the crew? I appreciate U-534 was cut up to become a tourist attraction but feel the cartoon image is not respectful, or does that not matter too much these days? I will contact Mersey Ferries but would like information on the Wellington loss beforehand. Thank you.
    Last edited by robin bird; 9th March 2019 at 13:22.

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    The aircraft was a Liberator, 547E , of 547 Sqn. The ORB records:

    This aircraft was seen to make two attacks on three surfaced U-boats in company. On the second attack the aircraft was seen to be hit by flack, and to have one engine on fire. A few moments later 'E' crashed into the sea. No signals were received.

    The date was 5 May - before the war ended.

    The incident was observed by Liberator 86/G of 86 Squadron, which subsequently sank U534.

    The above comes from the ORBs of the two squadrons, plus U-boat net at https://www.uboat.net/boats/u534.htm .

    The ceasefire was in effect south of 56N, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-534 ), but 86/G sank U534 north of 56 N (at 56.35 N) according to the squadron's ORB.

    Brian

    Edit: See also https://uboat.net/articles/83.html, which amplifies the 56N caveat:

    On 4 May 1945, the British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery took the unconditional military surrender at Lüneburg from Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, and General Eberhard Kinzel, of all German forces "in Holland [sic], in northwest Germany including the Frisian Islands and Heligoland and all other islands, in Schleswig-Holstein, and in Denmark… includ[ing] all naval ships in these areas",[19][20] at the Timeloberg on Lüneburg Heath; an area between the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen. The number of German land, sea and air forces involved in this surrender amounted to 1,000,000 men.[21] On 5 May, Großadmiral Dönitz ordered all U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases.

    The 86 Squadron attack was at 1335 hours, so it is quite conceivable the three U-boats had not received the unconditional surrender signal.
    Last edited by Lyffe; 9th March 2019 at 16:04.

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    thanks for the feedback, any info on the Wellington bomber shot down the previous year?

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    Robin,

    Check out: https://uboat.net/boats/u534.htm

    Robert

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    All that is recorded is that a Wellington of Sqd 172/B was shot down by U 534 on August 27, 1944. I am going to contact Mersey Ferries regarding the poster. Ideally I would like to know the number of people killed by U 534. Also some crew of U 534 perished when it was sunk. With respect to the aforementioned is why I wish to make my point. The submarine on the poster has been given the Yellow Submarine treatment

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    Robin,

    If you follow Robert's advice and work through the information provided, that will tell you how many people (seamen) were killed by U-534. The answer is none - the U-boat did not sink any ships.

    As for the Wellington, do what I did with 547 and 86 Squadrons. Access the online ORB for 172 Squadron and look at the entry for 27 August 1944.

    I doubt you would get very far with your argument that the shooting down of the 574 Sqn Liberator was a war crime. The U-boat was being attacked by the Liberator, what was it supposed to do - protect itself or let the Liberator attack unhindered?

    Although Großadmiral Dönitz had ordered the cessation of hostilities in certain areas on 5 May, I doubt very much that the signal was copied to 574 Squadron, so the U-boat would have been a legitimate target - and U-534 was justified in protecting itself. It is perhaps worth noting that 547 Squadron maintained offensive patrols throughout the 5th, sinking one U-boat and attacking surface vessels - who was committing a war crime?

    Brian

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    And a bit more (from the ORB):

    Wellington NB798 departed Chivenor at 27/1726 hours; identified a target on radar at 28/0015 and switched on Leigh Light during run-in of attack. U-boat opened fire immediately hitting both engines, the port engine catching fire. After dropping 6 depth charges the Wellington 'went into the sea' with the port engine feathered. Four crew survived the crash, although one died during the night. The survivors were picked up by a 10 Squadron Sunderland at 28/1510 hours.

    Crew:

    F/O G E Whiteley
    F/O T G Robb +
    F/O R B Gray - Died during night
    Sgt D Rowell +
    Sgt J W C Ford
    W/O G H Bulley

    Whiteley awarded immediate DSO
    Bulley awarded immediate DFC
    Ford awarded immediate DFM

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 10th March 2019 at 13:45.

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    Thank you everyone for the feedback and information on Wellington NB 798. I am not trying to argue if a war crime took place. I just think turning U-534 into a cartoon image is bad taste. Incidentally I went aboard U-534 shortly after it arrived in the River Mersey, before it was cut up and turned into a tourist attraction. Personally I would liked to have seen it left as raised to preserve history. Today U534 is more politically correct. I will write my letter to get the matter of my chest but wont mention 'war crime.'

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    Wise words from Brian. It also struck me that a possible reason for three U-boats were travelling together on the surface in broad daylight in May 1945 could indicate that they HAD received the signal ordering the surrender, and thus thought it would be safe to surface and proceed to wherever they were ordered to go by their higher command (which would have to take into consideration the wishes of the Allies). Seems like they were momentous days.
    David D

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    Hello

    A statement by a German survivor from U-534, matrosen Obergefreiter Machowski on 27th July 1945. Place: Military Hospital in Aalborg, Denmark.

    See digital file from National Archives of Australia (F/O James Leonard Howatson - 435216).


    Regards

    Finn Buch

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